The next assignment is to listen in on a conversation somewhere and try to write it down word for word without adding any of your own details or dramatizing it.
In the age of Murdoch telephone hacking, is that kosher?
I do sometimes hear conversations I want to write down. Yesterday, for example, I was in a small grocery store, and a woman dripping with perspiration blew in and accosted the butcher. “I’m Christine! I’m from Burnin’ Love. I’m so sorry. I got all turned around.”
Pretty good, huh?
Another time I was out walking on a breathtakingly beautiful summer morning — clear blue sky, goldfinches flying everywhere — and two men on bicycles passed by discussing credit default swaps.
And one day last fall, I overheard a conversation as I dashed from my office building to the subway. A young woman was saying to a friend, “What I’d like to be doing is studying. But I’ll be grocery shopping and doing laundry, and he’ll be watching football and playing video games.”
This morning, I ventured some timid eavesdropping. I thought I better buy something in my chosen venues. In the first coffee shop, where I hovered near a biking couple, I bought coffee and the Sunday Globe. But the air conditioning was loud and drowned out their words. In the second coffee shop, I bought a decaf cappuccino and wandered around testing conversations, but the music was too loud. In the third coffee shop, I bought waffles with toppings (blueberries, strawberries, granola), but that place had both loud air conditioning and loud music.
In the afternoon, I tried the book shop without luck and ended up back at the first coffee shop, which had opened its screened porch for lunch. I bought lemonade. I can probably use a few snatches of the conversation among three fed-up-looking tourists. Pretty bland, I must say.